BEECH MOUNTAIN — Many Avery County residents never get the chance to ski despite living so close to some of the best ski mountains in the region. This is usually due to either monetary concerns or the belief that skiing’s only fun if you’re good at it.
One group of seventh graders from Cranberry Middle School in Elk Park was lucky enough to visit the slopes free of charge, thanks to the generosity of Beech Mountain Resort.
On Feb. 8, the group of 63 middle schoolers visited Beech Mountain to ski, which was a first for many of the students. Melissa Porter, a teacher at Cranberry Middle School and recent Teacher of the Year recipient, estimates that only 15 of the 63 students had ever been skiing before.
“Some kids never thought they would ever go skiing,” Porter said. “This trip was a big deal for many of them.”
When they first arrived, the kids were divided into several groups for an hour-long lesson so they could be instructed before they hit the slopes on how to turn, how to stop and how to get up if they fell. The students then practiced on the beginner slope with the instructors before being let loose to ski and snowboard on their own.
“Some of the students were nervous, but they still tried their best,” Porter said. “My favorite part of the trip was watching my students try skiing and snowboarding for the first time. It was so nice seeing the kids excited about trying a new sport.”
“I wasn’t too good at skiing, so I liked eating,” seventh-grader Destiny Love, a participant in the field trip, added.
In addition to Beech providing the equipment, lessons and ski lift passes, they also fed the students a lunch of chicken tenders, cheeseburgers and salads.
“We went last year, and the students had a blast,” Porter said. “We knew we wanted to take the seventh graders again this year. The seventh-grade teachers started talking about the trip as soon as school started.”
Porter hopes that the school will have the opportunity to take a new group of seventh graders up to the mountain again next year.